#1: Stop having the conversation.
“I really don’t want to work out right now. This has been an incredibly long day, I really, really, really don’t want to do it.”
“Mmmmm, cookie. Too yummy to pass up… I’ll just have this one and then no more. I deserve it, it’s been a really stressful day.”
“My goal is to weigh 120 lbs, That was when I was at my skinniest and I want that again.” (20 years ago!)
Our brain is a lazy brain by nature. It enjoys sitting, contemplating, worrying, fretting, dreaming, and eating carbs, sweet treats, and salty snacks.
It loathes moving at high speeds with weights attached to it. It would rather take the time to figure out what goes better on a Nutella sandwich, crumbled graham crackers or chocolate chips? Would it prefer a glass of red wine or a beer? Would it rather workout or watch The Bachelor? Decisions, decisions, decisions!
When given the opportunity, your brain is going to fight you both tooth and nail to avoid doing anything that makes it really uncomfortable. And moving from a comfy spot to go sweat is not comfortable.
It knows what it wants and doesn’t want, and you know how easily it can win, especially at the end of a long day when your mental bandwidth is at its lowest, making it difficult to formulate a convincing rebuttal to “I’m exhausted and I don’t want to do it!”
The power of decisive action
When you commit to something, your decision-making process just got streamlined. There is no other option at that point. No conversations to be had. Whatever it is you’re committed to, it’s what you’re going to do and that’s final. You don’t give your brain the out, or the mere option of an out.
For example, I got back into working out when my husband got me the Peloton bike for my birthday. Initially, my inner conversations were running wild, none of which were grounded in positivity around this new bike. “Oh sh*t I really don’t feel like getting on that thing, but he’s here, and I know he’s expecting me to get on it, let me just get on it and get it over with…” is kind of how they went at first.
Not the most ideal conversation, so I knew that wasn’t going to last, guilt can only get you to do something for so long. (Unless you’re born Italian/Irish/Catholic — then guilt can pretty much run your life, but that’s for another day!)
So to switch gears and get the most out of this bike, I stopped entertaining the conversation and did something drastic instead. I picked a time that worked for me, and once that designated time appeared, I’d stop what I was doing, go put on my workout clothes, head down to the basement and get on the bike, without thinking for one tiny minute about how I had a million other things to do.
I shut the conversation down and the result was miraculous.
I showed up. And it was so easy. The workout, not so easy, but the showing up and starting wasn’t fraught with shoulds and coulds and woulds. I’ll even go so far as to say that it was actually peaceful in my brain, as if the mouse fell off the wheel and died because it couldn’t believe it wasn’t being entertained. (It woke up halfway through the workout and started telling me that this was enough, but again, I didn’t entertain it.)
The amazing thing is this can work for anything.
Don’t have the conversation about how good the cookie is gonna taste, or how it’s your favorite kind and it just came out of the oven and it’s so warm and you’re convinced it’s just what you need.
Don’t have the conversation. Don’t. Have. The. Conversation. Your brain will win otherwise.
#2: Get deeply connected to your goal
I know you want to lose weight. Your kids know, your neighbors know, all your friends know. You have a dress in your closet that hasn’t fit you for almost 8 years but you refuse to toss it because it’s the “goal” dress. We know. (We also know you do a lot of talking about it and not much doing about it.)
First off, ditch the dress. Secondly, stop telling everyone you’re not happy with your weight. Thirdly, get insanely attached to your goal — in a normal, healthy kind of way that is.
Connect your goal to a deeper reason. Why do you want to lose weight? So you can be the same weight you were when you were 20? What is that going to do for you? Most likely make you miserable because once you suffer enough to get to that weight, you’re still not going to be satisfied because what is it really giving you? Deprivation? Mood swings and emotional outbursts? And how long can you maintain that weight?
What if you connect your desire to accomplish this goal with being a good role model for your children? Or your parents? Or your spouse? What if you connect your desire to wanting to hike the Grand Canyon with your friends? Or walk the Camino trail? Or be able to walk up a flight of stairs and not lose your breath?
These things have real meaning, other than fit into an old dress you can’t let go of.
#3: Do “it”, whatever “it” is, especially when you don’t want to do “it”
This is probably the toughest one. And of course, it’s the most important one. You can’t accomplish anything sitting on your bum wishing you were doing the thing that you need to be doing.
You need to be doing the thing.
But if you do #1 and #2 on this list, #3 becomes that much easier because you’re going to find yourself doing the thing with clarity and ease because you know why you need to be doing it, and you’re not talking about it with anyone. Not even yourself. Especially not yourself.
I’d rather be in bed right now, but I sat myself down in front of my computer because I have a commitment to myself to show up and become a better writer, and the only way I can do that is to do it.
Do your “it” even when you’d rather be doing something else because you owe it to yourself to show up and be that better version of yourself that you imagine. The healthier version. The passionate version. The accomplished version.